lördag 26 mars 2011

Bog Green Attic Yarn and Echinopsis

First skein of Bog Green Attic Yarn! I like it!

And it's spring:

This is some sort of Echinopsis. The flower is white and has a lovely scent. It has two flower buds, can you see them?

fredag 25 mars 2011

Boreray. My Fiber Studies 17

I take part in the SpinDoctor Rare Breed Wool Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged SpinDoctor. The challenge ends June 30, 2011. You find SpinDoctor's podcasts in my Link List to the right.

The Sheep

This sheep is one of the island sheep from the North Atlantic off the Scottish coast. They have an interesting history, which you can read more about in the links below. They really do look a bit wild, with their shaggy fleece and dangerous looking horns. The state of the breed is critical.

              Photo in British Sheep & Wool, p. 155

The Wool

The wool shows a wide variety of fibers: soft undercoat, soft to harsh overcoat, and kemp, with a micron count of 18-35 and even coarser. It's used for tweeds and other fabrics, and can also be used in knitting yarns. The colors range from light gray to brown and black.

My Experience

Preparation: combing and carding, and opening locks with my fingers
Spinning Wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio: 1:8.5

The samples of fleece I got from Jane had been chosen with care to make a spinner happy: there was a lot of different fiber types. So many interesting fibers to spin! I roughly divided them into heaps: undercoat, over coat, both under and over, and in grey and offwhite. The fibers came from four different fleeces.

I combed some of the fibers, carded some. I pulled out the undercoat from a couple of samples.

I spun the rolags and tops with both woolen and worsted draw and a lot of twist to keep all the fibers in the yarns. I found myself changing my drafting a bit once in a while, but it seemed as if most of the fibers and preparations wanted to be spun worsted. I spun the coarsest fibers from the locks without preparing, only opened the locks with my fingers and spun worsted from the tip end.

In the yarns you can see the soft undercoat, hair (overcoat) and kemp. Some of the hair is quite soft, but there's also quite harsh hair.


What joy! Last spring I thought I'd spin primitive wool only if I have to. After my class with Deborah Robson in August I found I would gladly spin these wools again. I hadn't spun rare breeds before that, but Finnsheep and Finn crossbreeds have a large range of wool types, and that's what I spun in the 80s and 90s until exhaustion. Now I look at them with new eyes. I think I might start looking for funny fleeces among the meat sheep in the neighborhood.

The Boreray with all these wooltypes is so challenging, a wonderful fiber to work with. In the samples above you can see quite soft yarns suitable for spinning and weaving, stronger yarns that could be used in outdoor sweaters, and harsh strong yarns for weaving.

Yes, I want to work with this wool again.

Read More

Boreray sheep
Rare Breeds Survival Trust

M.L. Ryder, Sheep & Man. Duckworth, 2007
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010
Nola & Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing. Interweave Press, 1995
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. Storey Publishing, to be released in May 2011

Gulf Coast. My Fiber Studies 16

I take part in the SpinDoctor Rare Breed Wool Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged SpinDoctor. The challenge ends June 30, 2011. You find SpinDoctor's podcasts in my Link List to the right.

The Sheep

Gulf Coast sheep is one of the oldest breeds in North America. It's ancestors could be the first sheep the Spanish brought with them in the 1500s. It has developed in the Gulf coast area for hundreds of years. After World War II not many were left. That was a dramatic change from the hundreds of thousands of Gulf Coast sheep that had been grazing the lands before the war. The breed is now considered critical by the American Livestock Breeds Conservancy.

The Wool

Gulf Coast Sheep are mostly white, but other colors occur (brown, black). The wool has a micron count of 26-32. It's suitable for a wide range of products, for knitting, weaving and felting.

My Experience

Preparation: mill carded roving
Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio: 1:8.5
WPI in singles on my wpi-tool: 28

The roving from Spirit Trail produced a wonderful knitting yarn. It was easy to spin with a woolen draw. I spun a 2-ply and from the left overs on one bobbin a Navajoplied 3-ply.
           I have labeled the skein "Spinning Loft", but the roving is from Spirit Trail


I would be happy to spin more of this. A sweater comes to my mind first of all. Hubby would love that :)

Read more

Gulf Coast Sheep Breeders Association
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. Storey Publishing, to be released in May 2011

torsdag 24 mars 2011

Lincoln Longwool. My Fiber Studies 15

I take part in the SpinDoctor Rare Breed Wool Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged SpinDoctor. The challenge ends June 30, 2011. You find SpinDoctor's podcasts in my Link List to the right.

The Sheep

           Photo in "British Sheep & Wool", p. 99

The breed originates in the Middle Ages. There is much written about Lincoln sheep, so please look at the links below or read more in books. Lincoln is now a dual purpose sheep for meat and wool, in older days the wool was most important.  It's a big polled sheep with dark ears and a white face. Lincoln is one of the breeds used for developing Polwarth, Columbia, Corriedale, Targhee and Montadale sheep. The breed is on both the British and American lists for rare breeds.

The Wool

The lustrous wool is creamy to white or grey. The staple length is 15-30 cm.

Lincoln wool is used in carpets and upholstery. Handspinners can use the wool in a large range of products.

My Experience

Preparation: hand combing Louet one row mini combs
Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio: 1:8.5
WPI in singles on my wpi-tool: about 32

I had a lovely sample of Lincoln from The Spinning Loft. My mini combs are far too small for this sturdy wool, so I combed only two small tops and left the rest of the beautiful wool sample for a time when I have combs suited for it. I first thought I'd spindle the wool, but I changed my mind. Anyway, this is what the top looked like:

I didn't try to mix the colors because I wanted them to show in the yarn. I got a strong, variegated yarn I would gladly use for weaving, maybe a bag or a sturdy cushion. For a carpet I would spin a much thicker yarn, or make a multiply yarn.

Read more
Lincoln Longwool Sheep
National Lincoln Sheep Breeders Association
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy
Rare Breeds Survival Trust

M. L. Ryder, Sheep & Man. Duckworth, 2007
British Sheep & Wool. British Wool Marketing Board, 2010.
Clara Parkes, The Knitters Book of Wool. Potter Craft, 2009
Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Sourcebook. Storey Publishing, to be released in May 2011
Nola & Jane Fournier, In Sheep's Clothing. Interweave Press, 1995.

onsdag 23 mars 2011

Handspinning Rare Wools

This video about spinning rare wools is a treasure. It's a DVD with two discs, showing the wools, preparation, spinning, and the history of 38 breeds. Deborah Robson was the editor of Spin Off Magazine for thirteen years and one of the persons who were involved in the Save the Sheep Project. I was reading about that project with great interest at the time, and every now and then I return to articles in the magazine to freshen my knowledge about certain breeds and how to spin their wools. In August last year I had the opportunity to take Deb's class on rare wools in Stirling in Scotland. It was a day that left me full of new knowledge, ideas, and above all, a humble admiration of Deb's tremendous knowledge about sheep and wool, and of her passion for fibers, sheep and history.

"Handspinning Rare Wools, how to spin them, why we should care" can be ordered or downloaded from Interweave Press. I think the video should be in every spinner's reference library. 

Deb's and Carol Ekarius' book "The Fleece and Fiber Sourcebook: Moore than 200 Fibers, from Animal to Spun Yarn" will be released in May on Storey Publishing.

tisdag 22 mars 2011


Den här pelargonen blommar först av alla varje vår. Det är femte eller sjätte generationen. Jag tar ett par skott vartannat år ungefär. Den intensivt röda färgen är så glad. Vi kallar den Mökkikukka för den kom till oss från svärmors sommarstuga en höst. Den klarar sig lika bra ute som inne.

torsdag 17 mars 2011

Polwarth. My Fiber Studies 14

I take part in the SpinDoctor Rare Breed Wool Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged SpinDoctor. The challenge ends June 30, 2011. You find SpinDoctor's podcasts in my Link List to the right.

The Sheep

Polwarth sheep were bred in Australia in the late nineteenth century from 30% Lincoln and 70% Merino.  It's a big and heavy dual purpose sheep for meat and wool. The breed is not rare, but I share it with the SpinDoctor group anyway.

The Wool

This is from Polwarth Sheepbreeders Association of Australia's site:

Polwarths produce a super type wool - stylish, white, long-stapled, soft-handling and high-yielding.
Under average conditions, it is visually a 58s/60s fleece which averages about 23 micron, with a staple length of 100-120mm.  In recent years many studs have dramatically increased the size and fleece weight of their sheep and many commercial flocks now cut an average of 6-7 kg a head.
Polwarth wool has a very high resistance to fleece-rot - repelling water and drying faster than shorter, tighter fleeces - making the breed well suited to wetter areas.
They are straight bodied sheep with few wrinkles which minimises the potential for flystrike.
Polwarth fleeces are very even and because the rams throw to their own wool type, flocks are noticably even and wool clips are easy to class with a minimum number of fleece lines.

There is a fantastic photo on that page: fleece. It looks so soft and the crimp is incredible.

My experience

Preparation: Mill carded roving, dyed
Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria, high speed flyer
Ratio: 1:20
WPI in singles: very, very fine

I tried to spin this roving on one of my supported spindles, but it was difficult so I changed to Vicoria and the high speed flyer. The wool is really fine, and it wanted to be spun very fine. I chose a woolen draw and the fibers run into the yarn easily. I couldn't do anything about the large amount of neps in the roving, so I just let them go into the yarn. They add some interesting texture. I spun two strands of Polwarth and one in Merino-silk, which I spun worsted. I then plied them into a 3-ply sample.
Sample skein spun on Louet Victoria, the "sausage" was spun on a supported spindle


The yarn is quite stretchy even if there is silk in it and one strand was spun worsted. It's the fantastic crimp in the fibers that cause this effect. This would be a perfect yarn for wearing next to skin and for babies, but of course you would have to wash it very carefully to avoid felting and shrinking.

One day I will buy a fleece like the one on the Australian photo. It would be a joy to work with the fleece, and it would be possible to prepare it without neps.

Read more

Polwarth Sheepbreeders Association of Australia

fredag 11 mars 2011

Gotland Sheep. My Fiber Studies 13

I take part in the SpinDoctor Rare Breed Wool Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged SpinDoctor. The challenge ends June 30th 2011. You find SpinDoctor's podcasts in my Link List to the right.
The Sheep

Gotland sheep belong to the North European short tailed group of sheep. It is a multi purposed breed: pelt, meat and wool. It's a polled, big sheep, born black and lightens to gray with black heads and legs when grown up. There are many color variations including white, but the silvery gray is most appreciated. The Gotland sheep has been bred from an old sheep breed called "utegångsfår" with primarily good pelt and meat as the goal. From Gotland it has spread to the rest of Sweden and to other countries. It is closely related to the Gute sheep. The Swedish name for the breed is "Gotlandsfår".

The Wool

Even if the Gotland is a fur sheep, the wool can be used for knitting and weaving yarns. It's much appreciated by handspinners. The wool is wavy and lustrous and can be spun into a large range of yarns.

My Experience

I got a very nice raw wool sample from Ingrid in Sweden. There was at least three clearly different types of fiber in three gray shades and of different lengths. For simplicity I sorted the wool in three heaps, ignoring the different staple lengths and concentrating on color. Photo above.

hand carding the two lightest gray into rolags
hand combing the darkest gray into tops
hand carding the combing waste into rolags
Spinning Wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratios: 1:6, 1:8.5
WPI in singles on my WPI tool: 14-18

The rolags were easy to spin with a woolen draw, only I found that open, lofty rolags were easier than tightly rolled puni types. I spun a 2-ply from this prep, and just to see how it would look I also spun a thick singles.

The light gray fibers were the coarsest. This surprised me, because usually darker fibers are coarser. I thought these fibers came from a part of the sheep's body where the fibers are coarser no matter what color they are.

The darker gray was coarse also, but not as much as the lighter gray. I spun a 2-ply yarn with woolen draw. I could use this in a hat if I use a softer yarn in the brim.

The darkest gray were very lustrous and silky fibers, so I hand combed them on my single pitch mini Louet combs. These combs were not the best ones for this fiber, but they are the only combs I have for the moment. I spun a worsted 2-ply sample. This yarn would be a good upholstery yarn.
          Locks, combed tops and carded combing waste

I got enough quite good combing waste. I carded it and spun a woolen 2-ply. This yarn would be good in heavy outdoor sweaters, hats and mittens. It could also be used for weaving rugs and blankets.

The few meters of left overs on the bobbins I used for:

a 4-strand cabled yarn that can be used as a cord
a ply-back 3-ply yarn


Again a sheep breed with many possibilities. From a small sample of fleece I got 7 yarn samples. All of these can be used in different ways in weaving and spinning, and techniques such as nalbinding, braiding and more.

Read more:
Rasbeskrivning Gotlandsfåret
British Gotland Sheep Society
American Gotland Sheep Society

M.L. Ryder, Sheep & Man. Duckworth, 2007

torsdag 10 mars 2011

Tea Wool?

                                              Hm, there's Gotland wool in my tea.

onsdag 9 mars 2011

American Finnsheep. My Fiber Studies 12

I take part in the SpinDoctor Rare Breed Wool Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged SpinDoctor. The challenge ends June 30th 2011. You find SpinDoctor's podcasts in my Link List to the right.

The Sheep

Finnsheep belong to the North European short tailed group. It's an old breed, with an estimated age of one thousand years. At the beginning of the 20th century wool was an important part of the breeding, but after World War II meat became more important. Because of that the size of the sheep has grown quite a lot. It's been exported to at least 40 countries, the main cause being it's high prolifacy. It's not unusual with 3-4 lambs. Before WW II the wool was highly appreciated, and was exported to many countries. It was sometimes called "Nordic Merino".

The pelt has been a big article in earlier years. You can still see sheep skins used as bed linens for babies in our harsh Finnish winters when families are out walking. When I was a child I loved sleeping in grandma's sheep skins, one under me, one covering me :) I think I fell i love with clean sheep wool then, under school age.

The breed is also known as the Finnish Landrace, or more familiar, the Finn. In Finland it's called Suomenlammas in Finnish and Finsk lantras in Swedish.

In this study I look at the American version of Finnsheep. I will return to the sheep of my own country, the Finnish Finns, later.

The first Finnsheep were imported to America in 1966 by the University of Manitoba in Canada. There is an interesting article about the breed and it's wool I prefer to call "American" rather than "Finnish" here: Grace Hatton: Fiber Basics. Often when animals are imported to another country, they are crossed with other breeds. That happened to Finnsheep in America also.

The American Finnsheep are rare. Not many purebred Finns are born each year.

The Wool and My Experience

The Finns are mostly white, but there also all the natural color variations of brown and black. A grey variation of the Finnsheep is called Kainuun Harmas.

American Finnwool is classified as "longwool" by The Spinning Loft, where I bought my sample. In Finland the sheep are sheared twice a year, so the staple length is not what I would call longwool. The sample I got from The Spinning Loft was long. I forgot to measure it and even to save a lock, so I can't say how long it was, but about 12-14 cm is a qualified guess. On the whole I was so astonished by this "Finnwool" that I lost my nerve :) I was happy about it, yes I was! It was a lovely fiber.

I combed the sample after I scoured it. I nearly damaged it by agitating it while it was still in the water, silly me. I'm well aware of one the characteristics of Finnwool: it felts. It felts if you look at it and say "felt!" The combing left me with lots of waste because of that, but I ended up with beautiful small tops, like small clouds. I spun them fine on a 1 oz drop spindle, plied on slightly heavier spindle. It was under plied, so I put it through my spinning wheel... phew... and knitted a lace sample. The wool really behaved like a longwool, which hasn't stopped astonishing me.

So what to do with the precious combing waste? I was angry with myself for almost spoiling this wonderful fiber, so I put the waste in the dyeing pot, added blue and red dyes and acid. Then I spun it on a supported spindle and plied it with a yellow singles I found in my stash. I got a pretty nice light weight yarn I can use as an example for "don't give up easy" in Spin in Public events.
Yes, this is a balanced yarn even if it doesn't look like it! It's low twist in both singles and the 2-ply

Next time I encounter American Finn I'll try not to loose my nerve.

Read More

American Finnsheep Breeders' Association

tisdag 8 mars 2011

Attic Yarn Number Two and Bog Yarn

I have spun all the orange-green-brown tops. I got three nice skeins. One of them is a bit thicker than the others: consistency, consistency, the very very difficult thing in handspinning... after all these years of spinning I still have to work on that. But I don't think it will show much in the modular pattern I have in mind.

Before I started spinning I had an idea I would use the Attic Yarns Number One and Two together with the lovely Bog Green, but I've changed my mind. They would not look good together, so I'll think of something else for the Attic Yarns.

So the next yarn from EasyKnits' attic treasure will be the Bog Green. It's slightly matted, but opens easily, so I will spin a thin 3-ply for a sweater or cardigan.
                           Top before and after predrafted

You can see how good the fibers are. Bad, matted fibers would not open like this. It's a joy to spin :) I keep thinking of it as meditation.

Värmlandsfår. My Fiber Studies 11

I take part in the SpinDoctor Rare Breed Wool Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged SpinDoctor. The challenge ends June 30th 2011. You find SpinDoctor's podcasts in my Link List to the right.

The Sheep

There are quite a few sheep that belong to the North European short tailed group of sheep. The Swedish Värmlandsfår is one of them. The sheep all came from the region of Värmland. It was a local farmer, Bengt Sonesson, who started gathering sheep of the same type as those in his flock in the 1950s. Today there are Värmlandsfår in smallholders in many places in Sweden, but it is still an endangered breed. There are only about 2000 left.

In the awesome blog Fale Artut you can see both the sheep and wonderful batts, yarns and garments made from this wool. The blog is in Swedish, but there are great photos. My wool samples are from those lucky sheep, thanks to Ingrid in Sweden.

The Wool

The wool is grey/black, brown or white, or piebald. The wool is fine to harsh. It's an interesting wool for handspinners. Depending on what type the fleece is there is a wide range of textiles you can make from it, starting with mittens, socks, sweaters and ending with upholstery.

My Experience

I got two wool samples from Ingrid. The wool was very clean with no vegetable matter. I scoured it before carding.

Sample one, black

Preparation: hand carding

Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria
Spinning ratio: 1:13
WPI in singles: about 28 on my WPI tool
Plying ratio: 1:13

The wool was very silky and felt soft, but when I handcarded and spun it I found that the silkyness hid steel under it. Not that it was harsh, but it's a very strong fiber. It would be a good sock yarn. I spun it woolen into a 2-ply yarn. It sheds small black bits of wool, but that would stop when using it.

Sample two, light brown

Preparation: drumcarding

Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria
Spinning ratio: 1:6
WPI in singles: about 22 on my WPI tool.
Plying ratio: 1:8.5

This wool felt coarser than the black.

I spun a woolen draw, not quite a long draw but about half the length of my arm. I found that the best way was to slightly stretch out the batt and roll it lengthwise and start spinning from one end. The machine carded batt has a direction, so it's good to try the other end if the first one feels awkward. I spun a 2-ply I thought would be good in a hat.

Sample three, light brown

The same prep and ratio as the second yarn. I spun a singles a bit thicker. This yarn could be used in weaving for cloth or a thin blanket. As a 2-ply it would make a thicker blanket.

Sample four, light brown

I plied a few meters of what was left on the bobbin into an overtwisted 2-ply. I folded the yarn in two and let it twist into a 4-strand cable yarn. This would make a strong, thick weaving yarn for a rug.
                        Scoured locks, sample two, three and four

So, what do I think? A fiber with lots of possibilities, an interesting fiber, a fiber that needs to be worked with from fleece in my opinion. Every time I work with fibers like these I think I should have a loom...

Read more


Fale Artut

onsdag 2 mars 2011

Blue Hour, Light in the Window

This house is abandoned since a few decades. The lights in the windows are reflections from the sun setting in the west. When we first moved to our house we thought someone was staying in the empty house every now and then. But it is empty and slowly falling apart.

Now is the time of the year when the light can be deep blue in the evenings.

My first Spinalong yarn is finished but not washed. I call it Attic Yarn Number Two. EasyKnit tops, gift from Sarah.

The Sun and The Spinalong

The sun is showing almost every day now. In my part of the world that makes people happy. Last night a fox has walked across the field behind the bigger stone and then up on our back yard. The foxes are busy now, you can see their trails everywhere.
 With the sun behind it the Sarpaneva "Festivo" glass candle stick really shows it's icy character

In the Ravelry group Spinning in Sweden a fun spinalong started yesterday. I will spin my second Attic Yarn and maybe something else also. Top dyed by Jon Dunn! I have two of these and the yarn will go perfectly with the first Attic Yarn.

tisdag 1 mars 2011

Hog Island. My Fiber Studies 10

I take part in the SpinDoctor Rare Breed Wool Challenge on Ravelry. My blog posts are tagged SpinDoctor. The challenge ends June 30th 2011. You find SpinDocotr's podcasts in my Link List to the right.

The Sheep

This is a nice looking sheep, but I have no pictures to show. Look at the links below if you want to know what they look like. They used to live on Hog Island outside the coast of Virginia in the 17th century. When the island was destroyed by a hurricane many of the sheep were left to survive on their own and became feral. The status of the breed today is critical. There are only a few hundred left, mostly in heritage landscapes in the USA, but they are also kept by smallholders.

The Wool

The sheep are usually white, but about 10 % are black. Many lambs are born spotted, but the spots fade when they grow older. They shed their wool slowly over the year. Today they are mostly sheared. The wool is of medium weight.

My Experience


Spinning wheel: Louet Victoria
Ratio: 1:13 (a faster ratio would have been better)
Draw: semi-woolen
WPI in singles: have no idea, but very fine

My wool sample was carded almost to neps, but I have a belief that this wool is difficult to handle in commercial mills. It would be nice to work with from fleece. As things were, I had to try to spin what I had. The wool would be very easy to spin into really super fine yarn was it not for all the neps. It has great crimp and could be spun into a very bouncy yarn. My struggles with this wool sample produced one of the worst yarns I've spun since I learned how to spin, but you can't succeed every time, can you?

I spun a 2-ply sample:
It's a thin, uneven yarn. If I'd spin more of this, and if I had a loom, I'd spin super thin yarn for a skirt. I would put in a few red or blue stripes and sew one of those skirts used by elder women in the 19th century.

Read More

Hog Island Sheep Association
American Livestock Breeds Conservancy

Deborah Robson & Carol Ekarius, The Fleece & Fiber Resourcebook. Storey Publishing, to be released May 2011

Two Shawl Yarns and First Attic Yarn

I have been spinning lace yarn the last few weeks. I also spun the first Attic Yarn in blue, green and yellow. I got these wonderful tops from Sarah, all dyed by Jon Dunn, EasyKnits.

The lace yarns are spun from Ashford merino-silk sliver in the color "Pomegranate" (to the left), and in the middle merino-bamboo in the color "Blush" from Old Maiden Aunt Yarns. The First Attic Yarn I spun while reading an e-book. It's the first yarn I've spun almost entirely without looking at what I'm doing. The fiber was just right for that, not so fine and easy to draft. Today I started spinning the two tops in orange, green/turquoise and brown.

It's spring! The snow is coming down from our roof. I don't dare look, I think I'll save for hubby to shovel it away. That's a man's job, isn't it?